Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Havelock Mussel Festival 09

There are some things that one should not do in a torrential downpour at a festival.  One should not run around blindly trying to get everything packed away so that they don't get wet – they will get wet.  One should not head for there cars at a fast pace through sodden dirt – they will get wet and dirty and one should defiantly not stay defiant and just sit where they are with the expectation that it is just a passing shower, they will get wet, dirty and very cold

Those that did the right thing ended up at our Aquaculture cooking theatre,  at the mussel festival  and not only did they  stay dry but were treated to tastings of Marlborough Mussels, Oysters and New Zealand King Salmon.   I have done cooking demos all over NZ in many different locations  but this was the first time that I have done one while standing in two inches of water (my guests hoverer were dry),  while competing with ABBA being blasted in the background and mother nature throwing a torrential thunder and lightning downpour at us.  Not that this was a problem as being true professionals we just opened another bottle of Hunters Champagne and kept yakking about the virtues of our Aquaculture industry and the fantastic region of Marlborough

Now all of those people scurrying past us trying not to get wet (they were getting soaked) might have thought something was a bit odd, there was laughing, slurping, ooohhhing, aaahhhhing  and tastings coming from the Aquaculture tent,, there was a man (thanks Bill Floyd))  poking the ceiling with a umbrella, to move the water that was collecting in the corners, another man (thanks Chris Choat)  holding the sides of the tent out to so that we would not get electrocuted with thousands of volts of electricity while the chef was explaining that one of the reasons we live in Marlborough region  is the highest sunshine rate in NZ. 

Well done to all of the organisers and volunteers of the Havelock mussel festival 09, well done to the community for supporting it and for the Industry for getting in behind it and I am sure that next year there will be something else that tests the foundations of one of best organised and run festivals of NZ, lets just hope that it is not another thunderstorm!

Marlborough Greenshell mussels with Tomato and Sauvignon Blanc and Kelp pepper

500 g Ripe Tomatoes

100 g Cucumber Grated

100 g Red Pepper

2 Cloves Marlborough Garlic

50 g Fresh Crust-less bread

Marlborough Salt and Black pepper

¼ C Marlborough red wine vinegar

¼ C Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

3 T Marlborough Olive oil

1 T Course Kelp Pepper

Chop all ingredients finely and mix in a large bowel with seasoning,  add more vinegar to taste for a tangier version, Steam open Mussels and toss with NZpacho and sprinkle with Kelp pepper and fresh lemon wedges.

½ Shell Oysters with Champagne and Chive Sabayon

6 large egg yolks

1 tablespoon minced shallots

1/2 cup Champagne

Marlborough Salt and Freshly ground Black pepper

2 teaspoons snipped fresh chives

Combine all of the ingredients except chives in a stainless-steel bowl. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk until the mixture begins to thicken, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and spoon over the oysters, sprinkle with chives



Wild Fennel Salmon Gravalax wtih salt water cream and grisini


This is a timeless recipe for salt curing fresh salmon, there are hundreds of variations and everybody has their favourite "secret" ingredient. Ie Star anise, Gin, Brandy, mustard seeds. 

Rule of thumb is three parts salt (natural sea) to one part sugar

For 1 side of salmon

1 ½ cups salt

½ c sugar

1 T Black Pepper

3 T fresh dill or fennel

Mix salt and sugar, black pepper and 2 T finely chopped dill.  Pin bone salmon, leaving skin on.  Place 2/3 of salt mixture ontop of salmon and 1/3 under and cover with gladwrap and press with a firm weight over night (tins of fruit) in the fridge.  After 24 to 48 hours rinse off the salt and pat dry.  Press remaining 1 T finely chopped dill onto salmon surface and then using a sharp knife slice as thinly as possible on a large angle.

Serve with Salt water cream and Grissini sticks

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Keeping a secret

Keeping  a secret

When you know something that everybody else wants to know then it is always hard to keep your end of the bargain so with great anticipation the Inaugural Artisian Cuisine Awards 2009 were announced last week and my secret was now broadcast to the rest of NZ

Flying  to Auckland in early December 2008 I skipped breakfast as today was going to be a culinary journey of epic undertaking, with over 100 tastings on the table from bread to kina, bacon to rhubarb fizzy  this was not a day for the faint hearted .  Two strong black coffees later and the  judges comprising of myself, Cuisine editors, Lauraine Jacobs and Ray Mc Vinnie, Brett Fullerton and Al Brown with Enzo Bettio donned forks and napkins to find NZ top artesian food producer. 

Sipping, slurping, dribbling and a little drooling were the order of the day and the top ten products were put aside so that we could resample later.  Sheep's milk ice-cream, Kina Pickle (sea eggs), Farm house cheeses (with photos of the cow that produced that milk), NZ ultra hot wasabi paste and Happy Valley Butte r where all great but we were only interested in the very best that NZ had to offer

It was exciting to see the emergence of a real NZ style of food products, and even more exciting to see 2 Marlborough products in the top ten.  Premium games Wild Rabbit sausages (boudin blanc)  was just squeezed out by overall winner, Salumeria Fontana Sicilain Sweet fennel Sausages  and that left Sherrington Cheese and Uncle Joes walnut spread (I judged Uncle Joes Walnut Oil as the supreme winner in the Canterbury Olive oil awards last year and this is another of there great products!) .   My personal favourite was the Kina Pate from Northland that was unique and had a real kiwiana taste and flavour to, but please don't tell anybody otherwise it will be sold out and I wont be able to buy any

Th only problem with awards is that now that my secret is out of the bag I am going to have to look even harder to find more unique and wonderful artesian products for my kitchen !!  Well done to all Marlborough and NZ food producers and to all of the consumers who vote with there feet at more than 40  Farmers' markets  each week around NZ


Artisan food producers Awards 2009 

100 Unique Artesian Food Products as voted by NZ Consumers

8 Judges with hunger pains

16 cups of strong black coffee

8 Forks and teaspoons

Chopping board, breadknife and serving spoons

I tub of Sheeps' milk ice-cream

Method – Slice, dice, cut and scoop the Artesian Food products into small pieces.  Taste, discuss, argue, agree to disagree and slurp.  Dissect each and every product down to tiny detail – is it sour – sweet – bitter – confused – salty  - dry  or tannic , record all results and then announce the winners through National media.  Promote and educate to the consumers of NZ that we do have a vibrant and growing food community

Take the ice-cream and Taste ( a small amount) – while I am sure that people who are allergic to cows milk will love it there are some things that we are just not ready for (unless you like the smell of damp wool sheds)